CMO50 #14: Kim Portrate, Helloworld

  • Name Kim Portrate
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company Helloworld
  • Commenced role October 2013
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 19 staff, 5 direct reports
  • Twitter @KimPortrateHLO
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    Kim Portrate was appointed CMO of ASX-listed Helloworld (formerly Jetset Travelworld Group) in July 2013 after spending the previous five years at Tourism Australia. During that time, she looked after consumer marketing, covering global strategy, program development and implementing marketing activities across 17 countries.

    Prior to that, Portrate was the director of insight and innovation at Carat, and also worked for agencies in Australia and the US including BBDO Worldwide and D’Arcy Worldwide.

    Her task upon joining Helloworld was to manage the group’s brand and customer transformation, a significant task given the combination of offline and online services maintained. The retail brand portfolio included Jetset Travel, Harvey World Travel, Travelscene, BestFlights, United Travel and travelworld. Helloworld also manages a host of wholesale brands include Qantas Holidays, Travel Indochina, JTG Cruise Holidays, GO Holidays and ReadyRooms.

    Portrate’s appointment was part the group’s wider two-year business transformation plans, aimed at ensuring long-term success in the rapidly changing travel sector.

    Initiatives for Portrate to date have seen her engage in benchmarking, trends assessment, consumer research and in-depth studies, as well as build new collaborative relationships with franchises and suppliers. Other priorities have included leveraging the group’s scale in both marketing and purchasing, along with building multi-channel and digital offerings to improve customer experiences.

    Not surprising then, that Portrate believes the must-have attribute for every CMO is “real determination”.

    Empowered and long-term thinking

    For Portrate, Helloworld’s efforts to strengthen its emotional connection with travellers will come through evocative and inspiring content, re-affirming the joy of travel.

    “We’ll then aim to provide excellent customer experiences across our online and offline channels, enabled by a single view of consumer behaviour,” she says. “Segmentation in travel is unique; driven by trip type rather than traditional psychographic or demographic markers, and we understand and will engage based on that.

    “My final aim as CMO is to develop and nurture the existing marketing team. Coaching and mentoring them to dream big, plan with rigour and then take calculated risks so they grow and develop as marketers is a central pillar for me now and in the future.”

    To help, Portrate is looking to spearhead innovation that focuses on “finding new solutions to old challenges”.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Business contribution and innovation

    In 2013, faced with declining market share, growing competition, increased margin pressure and accelerating digital disruption across the travel category, the Jetset Travel Group realised a new approach was needed to future-proof its business. And so began the single largest business transformation in the retail travel category in Australia, Portrate said in her submission.

    As a key member of the transformation team, Portrate spent time researching and understanding the changing needs, expectations and behaviours of 1200 Australian travellers. She then worked to create a modern omni-channel travel brand to meet these requirements.

    According to Portrate’s CMO50 submission, this included consolidating five 40-year old legacy travel brands, all with accompanying brand loyalty, legal obligations and business transitions; working with 100+ suppliers; and talking to hundreds of small business owners convincing them to join the company on the transformation.

    Thanks to 195,000 planning hours, 360,000 hours of consultation sessions with individual small business owners and suppliers, and more than $40 million invested into the retail travel category, Helloworld is better equipped to change travel for Australians for the better, Portrate said.

    “Along the way, we have acquired new consumers, delivered 150 marketing campaigns, grown our promotional partners’ business results and most importantly, created a bright, sustainable future for Helloworld and the small businesses that rely on the brand and business across Australia,” she said.

    Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness

    One of Portrate’s recent marketing initiatives was #helloworldRELAY, a world- and business-first socially savvy program aimed at captivating consumers. The campaign built on Helloworld’s brand, and was aimed at driving new customer acquisition, rewarding loyal travellers and delivering sales growth.

    On September 27, to mark the United Nation’s initiative, World Tourism Day, the #helloworldRELAY Instagram relay travelled across 80 destinations over a 36-hour period and showcased what travellers can experience in a single day through visual storytelling.

    To bring the campaign to life through fragmented distribution channels, Helloworld paired up with over 100 partners, such as Visit Britain, Brand USA, Intrepid, and Qantas Holidays, along with its agents, to create bespoke itineraries. These were made available to consumers in Helloworld’s first omni-channel global sale from 30 September to 6 October.

    Portrate said the initiative required substantial planning and delivery from all parts of the business including marketing, distribution channel, technology, finance, legal, product, partner PR and media agencies, tourism boards, suppliers, media owners and most importantly, influential Instagrammers.

    Data and/or technology driven approach

    Portrate has also been the executive sponsor and project leader for a unified CRM system. Over a nine-month period, the group integrated 18 separate legacy systems, 450 databases and five technology platforms to achieve its goal.

    Adding to the complexity of this ambitious project was the fact that much consumer data was owned by franchisees. As a result, work first had to be done with franchisees around data ownership and privacy. The transformation project also required executive leadership level buy-in to gain acceptance of new, complex business rules to enable digital marketing to consumers.

    “Cross-team involvement with representatives from finance, marketing, legal and physical and digital retail distribution channels teams occurred weekly. This fast-tracked the project and delivered a technology solution, including a single customer view CRM and a new deployment platform, in record time,” Portrate said in her submission.

    Thanks to these significant efforts, Helloworld is gaining the ability to engage consumers with relevant and personalised messages, and is now tapping into predictive modelling to determine new programs, such as ‘next-best-offers’, furthering customer growth, Portrate said.


    As a wide-reaching brand, Helloworld’s aim is to serve all travellers. One creative effort launched last year focus on its regional customer segment was ‘Take travel to the bush’, which resulted in a bimonthly media section produced with partners and suppliers for 115 rural papers.

    Another recent initiative was ‘Live like a local’, a dedicated LinkedIn community for Helloworld staff to share insider tips and tricks on popular destinations. These tips were then shared in consumer advertising, website and social media channels.

    Social also took centre stage in Helloworld’s ‘Create the space to dream’ campaign, which saw the group grow its Facebook community from 27,000 fans to 150,000+ in less than 18 months. To do this, Helloworld created a robust social media strategy that allowed fans to share and learn from each other’s expertise with inspirational ideas, video content, insider tips, customer service processes and most importantly travel deals, Portrate said in her submission.

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